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Srpska čitaonica u Senti 1868 - 1957
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Srpska čitaonica u senti 1868 - 1957

As the educated Serbs in Pest in 1826 founded “Matica Srpska” and “Serbian Chronicle” in 1821 the current “Letopis Matice Srpske”, the oldest chronicle in Europe with the aim of preserving theui nationality, language and culture, so did the educated people in Senta when on 25th February 1868 founded the Serbian Reading Room with 100 members and passed “Constitution” of the same.

Serbian Reading Room was not only founded to be the place for newspaper reading and exchange of information but along with the Serbian Orthodox Church it had to go through constant fight with civil authorities in Hungarian part of Habzburg Monarchy and Austro Hungary itself, representing rampart to assimilation and national alienation of the Serbs. Among public events organized by the Reading Room the most important was St. Sava's Ball which was the opportunity to collect contributions for poor school children. Beside this there were other parties on occasion of church or school Slavas and periodically there were orations organized too.

President of the Reading Room was noble Simeon Karakasevic.

On June 25th 1871 Senta's Serbian Reading Room delivered the basic rules to Hungarian Royal Ministry which were granted on 14th February 1871.

On the main Assembly Session of the Serbian Orthodox Church, on 17th April 1883 a decision was passed to build a hall for church and civil purposes. The hall was built and on 25th March 1884 and was given to the Serbian Reading Room.

On October 26th 1887 the Serbian Reading Room organized celebration on the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Vuk Stefanovic Karadzic.

On September 26th 1906 in Board's Room of the Serbian Reading Room a cormmemomtive plaque was put in memory of the late Stevan Sremac, a writer and an academician from Senta. Stojan Ribarac ordered the plaque to be made at his expense and Nikola Lukacek made it. Before it was sent to Senta for two days it was exhibited in the bookshop owned by Antonije Djordjevic.

On the ground of the decision of Ministry of Education of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenians passed on 18th December 1923 the name of the Serbian Reading Room is changed to "Public Bookshop and Reading Room". However, this decision was not applied in practice before 1930.

In the period between 1914 and 1922 there was official break in work of the Reading Room due to situation during and immediately after the First World War. But there is also evidence that the Serbian Reading Room on 01st October 1920 set new basic rules and on the ground of these was given permission by authorities to further carry on its activity. Permission was granted on the ground of the statement of Bac - Bodroz district office, section of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Backa - Banat - Baranja.

On January 1923 the Serbian Reading Room in Senta passed new rules and on 21st August 1926 it got diploma as one of the members of "Matica Srpska" founders.

In 1939 the library of the Serbian Reading Room had 977 books and in 1940 it had its record of 984 books.

During the war years of the Second World War there were no activities in the Serbian Reading Room and on 01st March 1943 it officially ceased with its work which was forbidden by the Hungarian occupation authorities. This lasted till 0lst August 1945 when the Serbian Reading Room began with its activity again.

That year treasurer's report had evidence on 6 members who paid membership fee of 50.00 dinars and 101 members who paid 30.00 dinars fee.

In 1947 the Serbian Reading Room had 110 members who paid membership fee of 60.00 dinars, one member with the fee of 40.00 dinars, 10 members with the fee of 30.00 dinars, 2 members with the fee of 10.00 dinars and 22 members with the fee of 5.00 dinars.

Local library in Senta was founded in 1947 and later, probably during 1949, book collection of the Serbian Reading Room was moved there.

Treasurer's report for the year 1949 in its note says: "Diary of the Reading Room is with Jovan Sekulic as well as the money 11.292,5 dinars given on 9th March 1950."

In the book there is the last note on the work of the Serbian Reading Room for the year of 1957 which says: "Members ofthe Serbian Orthodox Reading Room in Senta lst October 1957, Branovacki Isa who paid fee of 1000.00 dinars."

On the meeting of the Managing Board of the Serbian Orthodox Parish in Senta in 1987 a decision was passed to tear down the building of the Serbian Reading Room due to its dilapidated condition.

In this way the Serbian Reading Room or Public Bookshop and the Reading Room in Senta, an institution which actively took part in preservation of language and writing, culture and national identity of the Serbs in Senta cherishing tolerance and unity among people of the good will regardless to their nationality, slowly and peacefully, ended its activity.

The past gave us the Serbian Reading Room which certainly took a key role in cultural life of the Serbs of Senta of that time.

Inspired by the past let us find strength and provide financial contributions for the Fond for construction of the Serbian Reading Room building.

One day, when the future becomes present and we, common mortals become past, we shall rest in peace mentioned by something worth mentioning.